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The Films of John Badham

The Impatient Heart

Isn't It Shocking?

The Law

The Gun

Reflections of Murder

The Godchild

The Keegans

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

Saturday Night Fever

Dracula

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Blue Thunder

WarGames

American Flyers

Short Circuit (May 8/12)

An affable yet forgettable effort, Short Circuit details the chaos that ensues after an experimental robot, nicknamed Number 5, escapes from its laboratory and hides out with Ally Sheedy's Stephanie Stack - with the film subsequently revolving around the race to recover Number 5 by both a sinister military man (G.W. Bailey's Skroeder) and a friendly programmer (Steve Guttenberg's Newton Crosby) and his goofy assistant (Fisher Stevens' Ben Jabituya). Short Circuit, written by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, generally unfolds exactly as one might've anticipated based on the premise, with the emphasis, for the most part, placed on Number 5's fish-out-of-water exploits on Stephanie's animal-friendly property. The pervasively pleasant atmosphere is heightened by the charismatic work from stars Guttenberg, Sheedy, and Stevens, with the latter's scene-stealing turn, which is responsible for many of the film's biggest laughs ("Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?"), standing as a consistent highlight in the film. It is, as such, not surprising to note that the periodic lulls within the narrative are relatively easy to overlook, although, by that same token, there's no denying that the movie's longer-than-necessary running time becomes more and more palpable in the buildup to the action-packed finale (eg there's a camping sequence that goes on much longer than necessary). Still, Short Circuit is a perfectly pleasant '80s adventure that boasts enough attributes to hold the attention of viewers young and old alike.

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Stakeout

Bird on a Wire

The Hard Way

Point of No Return

Another Stakeout

Drop Zone

Nick of Time (August 19/16)

Unfolding in real time, Nick of Time follows Johnny Depp's mild-mannered Gene Watson as he's accosted by a sinister figure (Christopher Walken's Mr. Smith) and blackmailed into murdering a local politician (Marsha Mason's Eleanor Grant). It's an irresistible premise that's executed to continually entertaining and sporadically engrossing effect by filmmaker John Badham, and there's little doubt that Nick of Time's success is due in no small part to Depp's charismatic efforts as the everyman protagonist - with the actor's affable performance ensuring that Gene instantly becomes a sympathetic figure. Depp's consistently solid turn here is, admittedly, often overshadowed by Walken's absolutely electric (and unapologetically scenery-chewing) work as the movie's menacing villain, while the picture certainly benefits from the presence of an eclectic supporting cast that includes Charles S. Dutton, Bill Smitrovich, and Roma Maffia. The real-time gimmick, though, doesn't quite pay off to the extent one might've hoped - ie there's no real sense of escalation here - and the inclusion of a dream sequence at around the midpoint feels like a shameless attempt to infuse the picture with action (it just doesn't feel organic, ultimately). It's nevertheless difficult to deny Nick of Time's status as a solid thriller that neatly and efficiently gets the job done, with the film's better-than-expected atmosphere perpetuated by Badham's stylish direction and an appropriately brisk running time.

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Incognito

Floating Away

The Jack Bull

The Last Debate

Brother's Keeper

Obsessed

Footsteps

Evel Knievel

© David Nusair